GIC makes latest counter-cyclical office investment in Perth via Primewest fund

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Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC has funded the acquisition of the Exchange Tower in Perth by the Primewest Counter Cyclical Trust for AUD326m (€208m).

The trust acquired the prime office tower from the AMP Capital Wholesale Office Fund (AWOF) and a syndicate managed by Primewest, a Perth based fund and asset manager.

Last year, GIC handed a mandate, valued initially at AUD300m, to Primewest to source buildings in Perth.

An AMP spokesperson confirmed the sale and said the AMP Capital-managed fund held a 50% stake in the tower.

Primewest formed the joint venture with AWOF in March 2016 when it bought the remaining half interest, valuing the building at almost AUD230m. The stake was held in the Primewest syndicate.

Nick McGrath, AMP Capital Wholesale Office Fund manager, told IPE Real Assets: “The joint venture partners had invested in a significant capital expenditure programme and a successful leasing campaign. This had resulted in an outstanding asset with occupancy well above benchmark at around 90%.

“The sale is an excellent outcome for investors and in line with AWOF’s strategy to reduce debt and redeploy capital into the fund’s development pipeline.”

The building was put on the market earlier this year to capitalise on strong investor interest in Perth’s slowly recovering office market.

The Exchange Tower is the second building that GIC has purchased in Perth. Last year, it bought the AUD175m Quadrant Building, bringing its total investment in the Perth office market to just over AUD500m.

PrimeWest was one of two Australian managers to receive a mandate from GIC in 2017 for countercyclical investment in Australia. Simultaneously, GIC also handed a AUD500m mandate to Charter hall to invest in Brisbane.

Brisbane and Perth are both suffering from high vacancies and an oversupply of commercial space. GIC saw opportunities to buy at low points in the market cycle.

After a multi-year slowdown, investment in Australia’s mining sector has started to pick up, reflecting on gradual improvement in the office take-up in the two mining-oriented cities.

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